The Tukano people (sometimes spelt Tucano) are a group of indigenous South Americans living in the northwestern Amazon, along the Vaupés River and the surrounding area. They are present in both Colombia and Brazil. Father of a group of various sub-nations they are usually described as being made up of these many separate tribes, although the appellation is somewhat problematic due to the complex social and linguistic structure of the region. The Tukano population is approximately 12,500 people.




Village Life

The Tukano are a multilingual people because men must marry outside their language group; that is, no man may have a wife who speaks his language, for that kind of marriage relationship is not permitted and would be viewed as a kind of incest. Men choose the women they marry from various neighboring tribes who speak other languages. Furthermore, on marriage, women move into the men's households or longhouses. Consequently, in any village several languages are used: the language of the men; the various languages spoken by women who originate from different neighboring tribes; and a widespread regional 'trade' language.

Agriculture & Subsistance

Fishing stands out as the number one male activity when it comes to both hobby and nourishment. Fish is a major source of protein for the tribe and typically males use a variety of techniques ranging from arrows to even poison as a means of catching a substantial number of fish. Women also have a large part in creating their own food by means of agriculture. Vast acres of land are cleared every year for the planting of various crops that are aimed as a supplement to the main meal. Bitter manioc, also known as cassava, is the most important crop and is known to be a dietary staple for the tribe. More well-known crops such as squash, melons and yams are also grown and prepared for everyday feasts.

The Spirit World

The yearly round is punctuated by a series of collective feasts, each with its own songs, dances and appropriate musical instruments, that mark important events in the human and natural worlds - births, initiations, marriages and deaths, the felling and planting of gardens and the building of houses, the migrations of fishes and birds, and the seasonal availability of forest fruits and other gathered foods. These ritual gatherings are referred to as 'houses', a term that connotes at once an occasion, a group of people, and a symbolic world. They take three basic forms: cashirís (beer feasts), dabukuris or ceremonial exchanges, and Yuruparí rites involving sacred flutes and trumpets. 


Information Referenced from the Instituto Socioambiental | Povos Indígenas no Brasil, Wikipedia and Indian Cultures

Date accessed 01.04.15
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